February 27, 2024

Four more years!

Hi there,

The world’s attention on Tuesday was on America’s elections. After spending about US$6 billion, the US stuck to the status quo, with President Barack Obama still in the White House, as strong, or even stronger, than he was on November 5.

From a purely self-interested point of view, this is good news for BioEdge: there will be plenty to talk about. Here are a few issues which could be more prominent over the next four years.

Surrogacy. With the moral support of President Obama, four states endorsed same-sex marriage. This will undoubtedly lead to an increase in demand for surrogate mothers to carry the children of gay couples, both in the US and in countries like India and Guatemala.

Conscientious objection. The Obama Administration will begin to roll out the Affordable Care Act. Apart from constitutional challenges brought by several state governments, the Act is also facing a number of lawsuits brought by institutions and companies who conscientiously object to providing insurance cover for abortion and contraception.

Abortion. Whoever the victor had been, abortion would have remained an important bioethical issue. However, Obama is an ardent supporter of a woman’s right to choose and his Administration will continue to promote it in the US and overseas, as a condition for foreign aid.

Euthanasia. Talk of “Obamacare death panels” was largely political hype. But greater government control of health care delivery will inevitably lead to lurid allegations of euthanasia in the media. Just look at the bitter dispute in Britain over the Liverpool Care Pathway.

Stay tuned. It will be an interesting four years.

On another note, several people have reminded me that the UK’s fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, is conducting a major public consultation on “mitochondria replacement”. This is a technical term for creating children with three people contributing to their genetic make-up. This is your chance to influence public policy, both in the UK and elsewhere! You have to register, which is a nuisance, but the survey does not take long and is well designed. Just click here


Michael Cook
Lots of solid bioethics stories ahead